Think “pickup truck” and the Ford F-150 may come to mind. After all, it has been the best-selling model for nearly four decades. Even so, there are alternatives to the F-150 worth exploring, with most models offering a variety of cab and bed sizes, as well as drivetrain and powertrain choices. Please read on for an overview of the F-150, the competing models and a few other trucks for your consideration.
The Ford F-150 traces its history to the original F-1 model released in 1948. In 1953, the model was renamed the F-100 and in 1975 the F-150 name was introduced.
The 2015 F-150 is available in regular, SuperCab, and SuperCrew cab configurations and offers four engine choices: a base 3.5-liter V6, a turbocharged 2.7-liter V6, a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 and a 5.0-liter V8. All four engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The regular and SuperCab models offer either a 6-foot-6-inch or an 8-foot bed. The SuperCrew offers 5-foot-6-inch and 6-foot-6-inch bed choices. F-150 payload capacity is up to 2,320 pounds, and it can tow up to 12,200 pounds.
Chevrolet Silverado 1500/GMC Sierra 1500
One reason why the Ford F-150 is the top seller is due to General Motors selling its full-size truck across two brands. It is a practice that has been going on for decades. Thus, in some years the GM duo outsells the F-150, but the best-selling model bragging rights are still with Ford.
The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 are nearly identical, with each model offered with the same engines, transmissions, equipment and sheet metal. Indeed, both models were known as the C/K until 1999 when the current names were adopted. Incidentally, Chevrolet aims its trucks at the mass market, while GMC targets professionals.
Both trucks currently offer three engine choices: a 4.3-liter V6 is the base engine. A pair of V8 engines displacing 5.3- and 6.2-liters are available. The two smallest engines come paired with a six-speed automatic, while the larger engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Silverado and Sierra payload capacity is up to 2,108 pounds, while towing capacity maxes out at 12,000 pounds.
For decades, the Dodge brand name was ascribed to the full-size pickup trucks built by the Chrysler Corporation. In 1981, Dodge replaced its D Series pickup truck line with Ram and kept that model name for the next 30 years.
In 2011, as part of a brand shake up instituted by the emerging Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the Ram line was separated from Dodge. Today, the full-size truck is called the Ram 1500, and is sold in regular, quad and crew cab configurations.
All models currently offer a 3.6-liter V6 engine or a 5.7-liter V8 engine. Ram is also the only manufacturer to offer a diesel option in a full-size, light-duty pickup truck, represented here by a turbodiesel 3.0-liter V6. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard across the product line. Regular cab models come with a 6-foot-4-inch bed or an 8-foot bed, quad cab models have a 6-foot-4-inch bed and crew cabs have a 5-foot-7-inch bed or a 6-foot-4-inch bed. Ram 1500 has a payload capacity of up to 1,933 pounds and a towing capacity of up to 10,850 pounds.
The first Toyota Tundra rolled out in 2000, replacing the three-quarter size T100. But it wasn’t until 2007 when Toyota built a truck large enough to take on the big guys, a model available in regular, double and crew cab configurations. The Tundra is currently offered with 5-foot-6-inch, 6-foot-6-inch and 8-foot-1-inch bed lengths.
Earlier Tundra models offered a 4.0-liter V6 engine, but that was dropped after 2014. Currently, Toyota offers a pair of V8 engines with displacements of 4.6 and 5.7 liters. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Tundra’s payload capacity is up to 2,060 pounds, and towing capacity is up to 10,500 pounds.
Unlike other manufacturers, Nissan has never offered a regular cab. Instead, you can choose between extended and crew cab models. The extended cab has a 6-foot-7-inch bed and the crew cab comes with a 5-foot-7-inch bed. Only one powertrain combination is offered: a 5.6-liter V8 engine that is paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. Titan payload capacity is up to 2,153 pounds and towing capacity maxes out at 9,500 pounds.
Midsize Pickup Trucks
Perhaps the footprint of a full-size pickup truck is more than you need. The midsize truck segment has long been led by the Toyota Tacoma, but thanks to GM getting back in the game with its Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup trucks, there are more models to consider. A fourth model, the Nissan Frontier, rounds out the segment.
Neither Ford nor Ram currently participates in the segment and the good news is that each of the current products is new or soon will be. The segment is chiefly defined by rear- and four-wheel drive models, sold in extended and crew cab configurations, and with two bed lengths.
Each model offers a base four-cylinder engine and an available V6. Manual and automatic transmissions are available. Beginning in 2016, Chevrolet and GMC will shake the segment again by offering a turbodiesel 2.8-liter V6. The GM truck brands will be the only ones with a diesel option.
Regardless of your choice in a pickup truck, the Tacoma, Colorado, Canyon and Frontier offer many of the same amenities as the larger trucks. Towing and payload numbers are quite good and off-roaders may find the smaller trucks are more agile.